How to Prepare Your Boat for Bad Weather
Boats are expensive items that many owners try to protect from damage from hurricanes and other violent weather. Boat owners need to know how to safeguard their boats from being ripped apart or sunk in storms. This includes guarding vessels that can be transported inland and those that cannot be moved out of the storm's path and must remain in the water.
Create a plan with your marina or trusted friend to care for your boat when you cannot.
- This is especially important if you will be out of town during part, or all, of the hurricane season.
Decide whether to move your boat inland or keep your boat in the water.
- Many factors go into this decision. Some factors include the size of your vessel, the strength of the threatening hurricane and the location of your mooring or a safe anchor area.
Safeguarding a Transported Boat (Hurricanes)
Transport your boat with a proper towing vehicle to a safer (inland) place.
Lash your boat to the trailer tightly and place blocks between the frame and axle in each wheel.
- Consult your boat's manufacturer, if it is a lightweight boat, about filling it part way with water to weigh it down.
Tie down your boat with heavy lines to fixed objects or screw anchors placed in the ground.
- Secure your boat in all 4 directions if possible. Remember that trees are often blown down during hurricanes and might not be safe anchor points.
Protecting a Boat in Water (All Violent Storms)
Move your vessel into a mooring field or "hurricane hole" if one is near your marina and set the anchor.
- This will help prevent damage from docks, pilings and other boats.
Double all your lines and secure them to the sturdiest and highest pilings.
- For example, if you usually use 2 docking lines for your boat, you will want to use at least 4 to secure it to the dock pilings.
- Use longer dock lines to account for rising tides and storm surges.
Use chafe guards on the lines where they might rub against the boat and dock.
Install fenders on the boat to minimize chafing the sides of the boat against the lines or docks.
Remove items from the boat deck that can become debris during the storm.
Tether any items that cannot be removed and ensure any weight on the deck is distributed evenly.
Remove all cowlings and seal all openings on your boat.
- Some of these include exhaust holes and sea cocks.
Charge all batteries and install backups to run bilge pumps during the storm.
Leave the boat and take shelter.
- Conditions at sea can be extremely hazardous and most recreational vessels are not strong enough to survive a storm at sea. You should not seek refuge on open water.
- Do not stay aboard an anchored or docked boat during severe weather. Storm conditions can deteriorate rapidly and become life-threatening.
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